Majority believe their financial situation will improve next year

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More than twice the number of respondents in the latest Bill Johnson poll believe that their financial situation will improve over the next year than those who hold the opposite view.

In fact, the individuals in the July 9-12, 2020 poll who say that their financial circumstances and those of their families are likely to improve represent an increase of four percentage points on those who held the same view in a previous pol`l conducted by Johnson four months before, but was not published due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Both polls were commissioned by the Jamaica Observer and saw Johnson and his team using a sample size of 1,200 voting-age Jamaicans across the island. The surveys each have a sampling error of 2.5 per cent.

The veteran pollster said that when his researchers asked people in July to say if they think their financial circumstances will improve or get worse over the next year, 48 per cent of respondents said they think it will probably get better, 22 per cent said it would probably get worse, 19 per cent said it probably would remain the same, while 11 per cent said they don’t know.

In the previous poll, conducted March 12-15, 2020, those who said their financial circumstances would probably get better amounted to 44 per cent, 24 per cent said it would probably get worse, 20 per cent said probably the same, and 12 per cent said they don’t know.

The results will most likely be welcomed by the Government which, up to March 10 when Jamaica recorded its first imported case of COVID-19, was touting its economic performance.

In fact, a World Bank overview of the economy in April noted that “public debt fell below 100 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] in 2018/19 and is expected to decline below 60 per cent by 2025/26, in line with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Law”.

The bank also pointed out that unemployment “fell to a historic low of 7.2 per cent in October 2019”, which is almost half the rate at the start of an ambitious reform programme launched 2013 to stabilise the economy, reduce debt, and fuel growth.

Additionally, the World Bank stated that inequality in Jamaica is lower than in most countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region. However, it said “stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity”.

The bank also noted that “crime and violence levels remain high, emphasising the need to address the issues of youth unemployment, education, and social cohesion”.

However, since COVID-19, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in its review statistics released in May, said that for the April-June quarter the Jamaican economy could contract within the range of 12 per cent to 14 per cent. The previous quarter saw a GDP decline of 1.7 per cent.

At the same time the PIOJ has projected a return to growth performance for the January to March quarter of 2021.

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